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Kia's Hybrid SUV Kicking off Slate of Green Models

November 16, 2015

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors.
Photo courtesy of Kia Motors.

Kia Motors plans to ramp up its green car lineup to 11 models by 2020, and will begin by offering a hybrid compact SUV now called the Niro Hybrid Utility Vehicle.

The Kia Niro will be designed like an SUV with a target carbon-dioxide emissions rating of under 90 g/km. The car should achieve this emissions level and impressive fuel economy with a downsized hybrid powertrain that pairs a 1.6L Kappa gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine (105 ps power output and 147 Nm of torque) with a 1.56 kilowatt-per-hour lithium-polymer battery pack and 32-kilowatt electric motor.

The powertrain’s combined power output and torque will be applied to the road through a 6-speed double-clutch transmission. Kia will add a plug-in hybrid powertrain to the car’s line-up later in its life-cycle.

The Niro’s body is made of more than 50% ultra-high strength steel, contributing to the fuel economy and high safety ratings that development teams are targeting. The extended use of this steel will help Kia reach its target of a 5% reduction in the average weight of new car bodies by 2020 compared to 2014 levels to increase the safety rating of the car and help minimize noise, vibration, and harshness.

The Niro is part of Kia's push to expand its current green car line-up from the four current models. The automaker is targeting a 25% improvement in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) over 2014 levels. Kia will also replace seven of its 10 current engine ranges with next-generation gasoline and diesel units, while increasing the number of turbocharged engines. Higher-efficiency, multi-speed transmissions are also planned, while Kia engineers are targeting a 5% reduction in in the average weight of new car bodies through greater application of this steel.

The Niro is due to be released early next year, with production for overseas markets scheduled to start in late 2016. The car will be built at Kia’s Hwasung manufacturing facility in Korea.

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